Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on Myanmar
National Statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on Myanmar, 13 October 2017, New York.
Let me join Francois and Matthew in welcoming you, Mr. Kofi Annan, and in thanking you for your extremely insightful and timely briefing today. We commend your leadership of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, and we fully support the recommendations in the Commission's report.
Fifty days have now passed since the first reports of wide-scale violence in Rakhine began to emerge. Since then a crisis of immense proportions has unfolded –in Rakhine, and across the Naf River in Bangladesh, where more than half a million Rohingya men, women and children have fled. There are clear implications for regional peace and stability. The crisis continues – 14 000 people have crossed the border in recent days. Inside Rakhine, we know little about the conditions for those that remain.
An urgent and swift response is now needed. The Secretary-General laid out a clear way forward to the Council on 28 September.
First, there must be an immediate and independently verified end to all violence. We note the government's statement that violence has ended; however, reports of systematic human rights violations continue. There is an urgent need to establish the facts and circumstances on the ground. The Human Rights Council Independent Fact Finding Mission should be provided access without delay.
Secondly, we welcome the State Counsellor's commitment to enhance the ability to provide humanitarian assistance effectively in Rakhine. This commitment should now be implemented without delay. The potential for an even worse humanitarian catastrophe exists. The UN and its partners need full and unhindered humanitarian access.
Thirdly, conditions must now urgently be put in place to ensure that all those who have fled, can return to their places of origin, in a safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable manner. We welcome the statement from the State Counsellor yesterday regarding the return of refugees as well as the ongoing dialogue between Myanmar and Bangladesh on this issue. The United Nations must now be invited to assist this process, in line with international standards.
For voluntary return to take place, refugees need dignified conditions to return to, where they can begin to rebuild their lives, free from fear and with confidence in the future. This requires real change on the ground. We need a 'new deal' in Rakhine, to ensure an end to discrimination, respect for human rights and to provide for social inclusion.
The Rakhine Commission Report provides the framework for such a 'new deal'. Implementation of its recommendations is urgent. The government has stated its commitment to implement them. The Security Council, regional actors and the broader international community have all voiced their support. This consensus provides a unique opportunity for Myanmar and its international partners to work together towards a lasting solution to the situation in Rakhine State.
Close cooperation and partnership with the United Nations is essential. The UN and its partners have the capacity to support both humanitarian and longer term development efforts. Constructive engagement with the UN can also allow the government to build much-needed trust with the broader international community, as Myanmar continues its democratic transition. The United Nations stands ready to support, however, narratives and rhetoric that seek to undermine its ability to do its work need to be countered.
Regional actors also have a critical role to play. We thank Bangladesh for its generosity to those fleeing the violence. We welcome the constructive role being played by Indonesia, and encourage them to continue to engage actively on this issue. We also appreciate the important role being played by ASEAN, and stand ready to support their efforts.
The scale of the crisis is immense. At the same time, an opportunity now exists for an historic shift that would put Myanmar firmly on the path to peace and stability. This is a critical moment. The history books will record the decisions that are made in the coming days and weeks. How those who have fled can return; the conditions waiting for them when they do; and the steps taken to build trust and a peaceful future for all communities in Rakhine.
The international community stands ready to support. We urge the Government to take this opportunity to engage with us.